The class tree for shamans offers plenty of situational utility, lots of defensive options with very little mandatory talents that improve throughput.
The mandatory talents that will improve your throughput are:
- Frost Shock is an old staple and is a must have most builds since they use Icefury.
- Fire And Ice is very self explanatory, more fire and frost damage.
- Nature’s Fury to get an extra 4% crit chance on Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Earth Shock and Elemental Blast.
- Spiritwalker’s Grace to be able to continually cast while being forced to move during encounters, absolutely essential to maximize dps uptime.
- Graceful Spirit, a straight up improvement to Spiritwalker’s Grace, reducing its cooldown and giving you increased movement speed during the effect.
- Improved Lightning Bolt. 20% extra damage to Lightning Bolt is insane for any build that specializes in lightning and still a small increase for the builds that go heavy into fire.
- Nature’s Swiftness, an instant Lightning bolt, Chain Lightning or Elemental Blast every minute . This does not work on Stormkeeper since Stormkeeper itself isn’t considered a “damaging Nature spell”.
Defensive talents that you want to take:
- Astral Shift, our defensive cooldown, now with a longer cooldown of 2 minutes and shorter duration of 8 seconds.
- Planes Traveler is a great improvement to Astral Shift to bring the cooldown and duration back to what it was in Shadowlands, 1.5 minute cooldown with 12 second duration.
- Astral Bulwark is the alternative choice to Planes Traveler and could see use on encounters where you only need to use Astral Shift every 2 minutes and the increased duration isn’t beneficial enough.
- Earth Elemental has retained part of the conduit that increased our maximum health while it’s active, the amount has however been reduced to 15% which still makes it a very worthwhile pickup. It is worth noting that unfortunately with Primal Elementalist the Primal Earth Elemental no longer provides the Harden Skin ability which has been removed from the game.
- Ancestral Defense for some passive Leech and Avoidance.
- Elemental Warding. A very solid talent that reduces the magic damage we take which is normally the vast majority of damage taken in both dungeons and raids.
- Nature’s Guardian is now a talent that we no longer have to sacrifice in order to provide Wind Rush Totem to the raid. This automatic emergency heal is great in every situation.
- Brimming with Life is basically a second stamina buff as long as Reincarnation is not on cooldown and when it inevitably has to be used it will be ready much faster than normal.
- Gust of Wind is thankfully back and helps with burst mobility to not have to spend unnecessary time in Ghost Wolf.
- Go with the Flow to reduce the cooldown on Gust of Wind by 10 seconds. These are likely the first points to drop if more utility is needed.
- Thunderous Paws puts Ghost Wolf to a 65% movement speed increase for a short while. A solution for when Gust of Wind is either on cooldown or it’s not enough to cover the required distance. A general goal is always to spend as little time as possible in Ghost Wolf, but having the time in the form being faster is a lot better.
- Wind Rush Totem has been nerfed to 40% movement speed and is now strictly worse than Stampeding Roar from Druids. The upside is that we can now move it if needed with Totemic Projection and even reset the cooldown with Totemic Recall.
Taking all of this and the talents on the way makes our tree look like this:
- Wind Shear, arguably the best interrupt in the game, can be skipped if a raid encounter has no need for interrupts. Should always be taken for m+.
- Capacitor Totem for an AoE stun with either Guardian’s Cudgel or Static Charge to improve it.
- Cleanse Spirit if there are curses that have to be removed.
- Tremor Totem to prevent any fear, charm or sleep.
- Hex if you need to keep a target cc’d for a long period of time.
- Ancestral Guidance for a healing cooldown that is amazing in AoE.
- Thundershock to make your Thunderstorm an AoE CC without the detrimental knockback.
- Poison Cleansing Totem to remove potential poisons.
- Totemic Recall with Call of the Elements to reset your most recently cast totems cooldown, should always be taken if playing Liquid Magma Totem.
- Mana Spring Totem can provide a serious amount of mana recovery to the healers in the raid if paired with a build that casts a lot of Lava Bursts. This does not stack with any other Mana Spring in the raid and has a range of 40 yards.
- Earth Shield is not worth casting in raids but could be used in dungeons if casted between packs.
- Stoneskin Totem is rather underwhelming as it only affects a total of five players and only reduces physical damage by 10% it’s an extremely niche and underwhelming ability.
Then there’s Maelstrom Weapon, a talent that is technically a dps increase if there is no downside to being in melee range of the boss. You will be melee attacking between instant casts and have the chance to generate Maelstrom Weapon charges, reducing the cast time of your next cast by 20%. This dps gain is extremely minor and should only be taken when there’s an encounter where you’re in melee range of the boss anyways. If Maelstrom Weapon is taken, Flurry should also be picked up.
A lot of experienced Elemental players will recognize most of these talents as abilities, legendaries or mechanics the specialization has had in the past, but now with access to more of them at once than ever before.
Let’s start with going over the talents that make all the following builds work.
Elemental Fury - This makes our crits do more damage than they do for other classes. For example an ability that would normally do 10k crits for double damage, 20k. Instead with this talent the crit will deal 25k.
Fire Elemental - An underwhelming 2.5 minute cooldown that does less than 2% of your damage in single target. The bigger benefit it provides is that while it is active it makes your Flame Shocks tick 33% faster which means more potential Lava Surges. It also makes any new Flame Shocks that you apply last for twice as long meaning they have to be refreshed less often and makes it easier to maintain more of them in AoE.
Storm Elemental - The other choice instead of Fire Elemental, equally underwhelming even if it does a bit more damage than the Fire Elemental. Instead of providing benefits to Flame Shock, Storm Elemental grants a stacking buff every time you cast Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning during its 30 second duration, reducing their cast time by 3% per stack, up to 30%. This is actually not a bad buff once stacked, especially in an AoE build that’s centered around casting a ton of Chain Lightning.
Flow of Power - Increases the Maelstrom generation of Lava Burst from 10 to 12, its overload from 4 to 5, Lightning Bolt from 8 to 10 and its overload from 3 to 4. This might not sound like a lot but is a very significant amount of Maelstrom generated throughout an encounter, generating enough for several extra casts of either Earth Shock, Earth Quake or Elemental Blast.
Echo of the Elements - Provides a second charge to Lava Burst which improves the cooldown management of it by a lot. If you for example were to gain a Lava Surge proc while there was only 2 seconds cooldown left on Lava Burst you not only get a charge back and an instant cast, you will still get another charge in 2 seconds meaning that the proc was worth the full 8 seconds of cooldown and not just 2.
Flames of the Cauldron - Cooldown reduction and faster tick rate for Flame Shock means more potential Lava Surges and easier multi-dotting.
Improved Flametongue Weapon - 5% fire damage increase, this affects Lava Burst, Flame Shock, Lava Beam (replaces Chain Lightning during Ascendance) and Elemental Blast. This requires you to keep Flametongue Weapon applied to your weapon and means you can’t use a weapon oil, weapon enchants still work just fine.
Unrelenting Calamity - A massive cast time reduction to Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning as well as a ~17% damage increase to Earthquake under the assumption that the enemy stays in it for the full 7 seconds.
Stormkeeper - An incredible ability that you could potentially pick not just once, but twice. It does wonders in both single target and AoE situations. The guaranteed overload means it doesn’t benefit from mastery (Mastery: Elemental Overload) as it can’t overload another time from it. When used with Chain Lightning it creates an overload for every target hit, meaning a cast that hits 5 targets then triggers 5 overloads all hitting 5 times each for a total of 30 hits from a single cast of Chain Lightning. When used with Lightning Bolt any and all overloads retain the 150% more damage buff that Stormkeeper grants.
Swelling Maelstrom - Changes the maelstrom cap from 100 to 150, making it less likely to waste maelstrom from big overloads in AoE and gives you a bigger timeframe to use your spenders, especially Elemental Blast as it has a much higher cost than Earth Shock and Earthquake.
Eye of the Storm - Reducing the cost of your spenders by a total of 20% has a lot of beneficial interactions with other talents that we’ll get to later in the list.
Power of the Maelstrom - These additional overloads are in addition to the potential overload from mastery meaning a Lightning Bolt can overload twice. This even works with Stormkeeper and the second overload retains the damage buff.
Master of the Elements - After Lava Burst our next spell that isn’t Lava Burst, Flame Shock or Lava Beam does 20% more damage. What spells you use this on is a little bit dependent on the talent build but in general this is always prioritized for spenders such as Earth Shock, Earthquake and Elemental Blast.
Icefury - This has been made far easier to play with in Dragonflight with the duration of the buff changing from 15 to 25 seconds. It also generates a solid 25 maelstrom with the chance to overload for an additional 12. It now also comes with a choice of two different talents that makes the buffed Frost Shock have additional effects.
Electrified Shocks - Makes the Icefury buffed Frost Shocks hit a total of 4 targets and then also make them all take 15% extra nature damage. This applies to Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Earth Shock and Elemental Blast; it does not benefit the damage that Storm Elemental deals. Even if Frost Shock hits 4 targets it still only generates 8 maelstrom.
Flux Melting - 20% increased damage to the next Lava Burst after a Icefury buffed Frost Shock. This buff is currently consumed both on cast and on hit, meaning that I can buff the same Lava Burst twice if cast both before and instantly after the Lava Burst, before it hits, resulting in a 44% damage increase.
Aftershock - Chance to refund the cost of a maelstrom spender, essentially making the cast free.
Surge of Power - An alternative talent to Aftershock. This talent has a lot of different interactions, but the most important ones are the additional overloads for Lightning Bolt and the additional target for Chain Lightning. Flame Shock hitting another target can be useful in getting as many Flame Shocks up and running as soon as possible in AoE. The Lava Burst reducing the cooldown on Fire or Storm Elemental is underwhelming while the Frost Shock root has no real application for PvE. The additional overloads that this buff grants to Lightning Bolt are in addition to the one from mastery and retain the damage of Stormkeeper. If a Stormkeeper Chain Lightning is used with this buff it hits 6 targets and then proceeds to create 6 overloads each hitting 6 targets for a total of 42 hits instead of the regular 30 hits it does without Surge of Power, a 40% damage increase.
Elemental Equilibrium - This can only trigger every 30 seconds and it only starts recording damage types after this time has elapsed. Elemental Blast triggers this on its own as it deals all three types of damage.
Magma Chamber - Lava Shock in a new, much less impressive form that can still be upwards of a 60% damage increase on spenders if enough Flame Shocks are active. The majority of the time this doesn’t go past 5 stacks on single target.
Searing Flames - Can generate a surprising amount of maelstrom, especially if it’s possible to maintain more than one Flame Shock.
Echo Chamber - With two points in this it brings the overload damage up from 85% of the cast to 100%, which means that the overloads do identical damage to the actual cast.
Mountains Will Fall - Makes it possible for spenders to also trigger overloads, albeit at half damage.
Elemental Blast - A replacement to Earth Shock with the downsides of it costing more maelstrom and having a cast time. The upsides is that it deals much more damage as well as providing one of three buffs; 6% Haste, 6% Crit or 11% Mastery. Overloads from Elemental Blast will also give one of these buffs.
Lightning Rod - Makes 20% any damage you deal with Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning and Lava Beam to also be dealt to the debuffed target. You can have multiple Lightning Rods at once and should therefore change your target after every Earth Shock, Earthquake or Elemental Blast.
Primal Elementalist - Grants Immolate and Meteor to the fire elemental while giving Tempest to the Storm Elemental. Tempest should only ever be cast after the Storm Elemental has casted Call Lightning.
Liquid Magma Totem - Being able to apply 3 Flame Shocks at once is very useful in AoE and removes the need to wait for several Flame Shock cooldowns before being able to use Primordial Wave. The cooldown on this totem can be reset with Totemic Recall and it’s possible to have two active at the same time, it doesn’t let you bypass the limit of 6 Flame Shocks however.
Windspeaker’s Lava Resurgence - The best legendary of Shadowlands making a return but at a slightly nerfed state, providing a 10% damage buff to the next Lava Burst rather than the 20% that the legendary gave, still an incredible talent that generates a massive amount of predictable Lava Surges.
Skybreaker’s Fiery Demise - Alternative talent to Windspeaker’s. The crit chance increase is by 50 percentage points, meaning that if you have 10% crit chance normally, Flame Shock will have a 60% chance to crit.
Ascendance - Lava Beam works the same way as Chain Lightning and will also hit 6 targets when cast with Surge of Power, it will however not stack or benefit from the Wind Gust buff from Storm Elemental.
Deeply Rooted Elements - This 7% chance is only from actual Lava Burst casts and not from overloads, additional Lava Bursts generated by Primordial Wave or the ones generated from the proc of Deeply Rooted Elements itself. Casting Lava Burst while in Ascendance can still trigger this proc, extending the duration and generating the additional Lava Bursts at every target with Flame Shock and refreshing the duration of said debuff.
Oath of the Far Seer - Brings Ascendance down to a much more reasonable 2 minute cooldown.
Further Beyond - The gambling enthusiasts choice when combined with Deeply Rooted Elements. While it is technically possible to stay in Ascendance forever with procs from Deeply Rooted Elements and extending the duration with Further Beyond it has extremely high variance and from one pull to another you can spend 10% or 90% of the fight with Ascendance active.
Primordial Wave - The only covenant ability that Elemental got to keep, it still functions exactly the same, refreshing Flame Shock on the target and shooting an additional Lava Burst at every target affected by Flame Shock, including the main one. The chance to reset the cooldown that the conduit Tumbling Waves provided is no longer possible.
Rolling Magma - Instead of the chance to reset the cooldown we instead get the much better option of a reliable way to reduce the cooldown on Primordial Wave. This reduces the cooldown by as much as 50% on single target and even more in cleave.
Primordial Surge - An extremely powerful talent that generates an obscene amount of Lava Surges allowing for basically every other global to be an instant Lava Burst with a big 25% damage buff for a whole 12 seconds.And with an average cooldown of 23-30 seconds on Primordial Wave thanks to Rolling Magma this buff has close to a 50% uptime, generating far more Lava Surges than any other source.
Splintered Elements - The alternative to Primordial Surge that is aimed at AoE and cleave where you can get upwards of 60% haste depending on how many active Flame Shocks that’s possible to have.
Single Target Build 1: Fire Primordial Surge Windspeaker’s
The three main talents of the build are Primordial Surge, Windspeaker’s Lava Resurgence and Deeply Rooted Elements which all revolve around generating more Lava Bursts which then reduces the cooldown of Primordial Wave through Rolling Magma and increases the chance for Deeply Rooted Elements to trigger.
While Primordial Surge is active you will be “wasting” Lava Surges as it’s simply not possible to cast Elemental Blast and Lava Burst in quick enough succession to not have the Lava Surge from Windspeaker’s and Primordial Surge overlap. You still do benefit from both of the damage increases however so the effect from Windspeaker’s isn’t entirely wasted.
It also pairs Elemental Blast with Aftershock to make use of all the maelstrom generated from Lava Burst.
Icefury is not very central to this build and is used more as a filler when there are no Lava Bursts or Elemental Blasts to cast. It’s a little counterintuitive but the optimal way to play this build is by putting such a low priority on Frost Shock that you use barely half of the charges that Icefury grants over a fight.
Single Target Build 2: Fire Primordial Surge Mountains Will Fall
This build overtakes the first one once you get enough gear to make full use of Mountains Will Fall, make sure to sim yourself in both versions to see which build is better with your gear.
The build still revolves around Primordial Surge but has Icefury in a much more central position making use of basically every buffed Frost Shock and alternating them with Lava Burst to optimize the damage increases from Master of the Elements as well as Flux Melting without wasting Lava Surges.
Single Target Build 3: Hybrid Primordial Surge Stormkeeper Surge of Power
A build that is less than a percent behind the top build that takes the key elements of the fire build and combines them with the synergy of Stormkeeper and Surge of Power foregoing Icefury entirely. It’s also probably the harder of the three to play.
Primordial Surge is still front and center for this build as well and not wasting any of the Lava Surge procs is essential. The biggest difference in this build is that Surge of Power needs to be considered and should only ever be spent on Lightning Bolt.
This build unfortunately has to drop Swelling Maelstrom which in combination with Elemental Blast means that buffing both Stormkeeper bolts with Surge of Power requires a lot of pre-planning by pooling full maelstrom and having access to two charges of Lava Burst in order to generate enough maelstrom to be able to afford the second Elemental Blast without wasting the last Stormkeeper charge. This is not really a problem when Stormkeeper and Primordial Wave align, only when they are out of sync because of the cooldown difference.
Since the build has Stormkeeper it has a much better burst potential than the two first builds that have extremely flat damage profiles with no burst to speak of.
This is also the first build to be able to offer any semblance of AoE capability while maintaining strong single-target damage, making it an obvious choice on bosses with occasional adds.
AoE/M+ DRE Primordial Wave
A build that attempts revolves around maintaining as many Flame Shocks as possible (Cap is at 6) and taking advantage of Splintered Elements for a massive haste buff every pack. It’s able to get a lot of Flame Shocks up and running through the use of Liquid Magma Totem and Surge of Power which also works with Primordial Wave.
Skybreaker’s Fiery Demise and Magma Chamber have great synergy with this build as you want to maintain a lot of Flame Shocks, which tick incredibly fast from all the extra haste and Fire Elemental and Flames of the Cauldron.
This build can still do respectable damage on bosses in Mythic+, and it’s possible to change Power of the Maelstrom and Improved Flametongue Weapon for Primordial Fury and Flow of Power to make that even better on Tyrannical weeks.
This talent build is all out AoE, it’s about generating as much maelstrom as possible to get loads of big Earthquakes multiple Lightning Rods for Chain Lightning to do massive damage especially when combined with Stormkeeper.
This talent build only really works at 4+ targets with 5+ being a big increase in power because of the increased maelstrom generation.
When using this build make sure you swap target after every Elemental Blast and Earthquake to get the most use of Lightning Rod.